What's Wrong With Your
Current Digital Census Images?
The microfilms used (diazo and vesicular) were of poor
quality and scanned at resolution rates that were too low.
The result? digital images that are not as good as they could
have or should have been.
What's Wrong With Diazo and Vesicular Microfilm?
Diazo and vesicular film lose too much detail when converted
to a digital format. This happens because they are high
contrast films and are always third or fourth generation
Just like a photocopy, every time you make a "copy of a copy"
you lose resolution and therefore image quality; eventually,
it can get so bad you can no longer read it.
In our opinion, only Silver Master microfilm (direct from the
National Archives) should be used to create digital census
images and that's exactly what we use here at DCS. In addition,
every department head or manager has at least 20 years or more
of genealogy research experience in the U.S. Federal census
records. Rest assured, when it comes to census images we know
what a good image should look like.
Library and Rental Copies
One of DCS's competitors borrowed a library's collection
to produce their images not realizing until it was too late,
how badly scratched the collection was. Public and rental
library copies should never be used for scanning purposes.
Have you noticed a lot of scratches on your digital images?
Now, you know why.
Some companies feel their low-resolution digital census images
While admittedly, some of our competitor's images look
"okay" at the lower resolution. What happens when you
encounter really bad census images?
The 1880 Federal Census
The 1880 Federal census is an example of census records that
were poorly filmed. Microfilm copies from that year
can be very hard to read. When converting them to a digital
format the images must be scanned at high resolution rates and
enhanced; otherwise the digital images are guarantee to be of
DCS doesn't take shortcuts. We use ONLY Silver Master microfilm
direct from the National Archives and scan them at the highest
resolution possible. We then enhance the images using a four step
process. This results in digital images that are "visibily"
clearer, sharper and easier to read.
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A Few Words About Microfilm
Diazo and vesicular are the most common types of film used
to create microfilm copies. Vesicular film is bluish/white in
color, while diazo film can be blue, black, brown, and sometimes
red. Microfilm copies made from these types of film are often
very good. However, because they are high contrast films they
shouldn't be used to convert the images to a digital format.
Silver film is dark gray to gun metal gray in color and does in
fact contain silver. It is highly valued for its ability to
capture every nuance of an image and its long archival life,
rated at 500 years when properly stored.
Whether Silver, Diazo or Vesicular - microfilm carries an emulsion
coating on one side that is susceptible to scratching. Every
time a film is viewed (on a microfilm reader) it can and often
does get scratched. Over time, this results in films that
gradually lose their images. That is why library or rental
copies should never be used as a source for digital images.